Lab-made mouse embryos grew brains and beating hearts, just like the real thing

synthetic mouse embryo pictured next to natural embryo
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Scientists coaxed mouse stem cells to grow into synthetic embryos that began developing hearts and brains, just like the real thing.

The lab-made embryos, crafted without any eggs or sperm and incubated in a device that resembles a fast-spinning Ferris wheel full of tiny glass vials, survived for 8.5 days. That’s nearly half the length of a typical mouse pregnancy. In that time, a yolk sac developed around the embryos to supply nutrition, and the embryos themselves developed digestive tracts; neural tubes, or the beginnings of the central nervous system; beating hearts; and brains with well-defined subsections, including the forebrain and midbrain, the scientists reported in a study published Thursday (Aug. 25) in the journal Nature (opens in new tab).

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